- 04 Oct 2014 -

Interview of Poul Erik Jensen, Co-Founder of the French Dining School

I find the idea of learning to cook in the Celtic part of France with a Danish chef trained in French cooking fascinating. Chef Poul Erik is one of a kind, not only is he a fabulous chef, his unparalleled F&B knowledge is damn impressive. A Michelin trained chef, waiter, sommelier, restaurant manager and owner who has worked in Denmark, London, Jersey and Australia before landing in Brittany... I wish all my fellow food lovers could go to experience the magic for themselves.



Philosophy of the School

Q/How long have you been running the school?
Four years, we opened the school to the public in April 2009. Q/How would you describe the style of the school?

Hands on cooking. Kids can learn by watching but adults learn hands on. Food wise, there is obviously a fair bit of focus on seafood as we are in Bretagne, its by and large modern European cuisine with Danish influence given my heritage. I think French cooking is a great base for all beginners to start, you can always build on it through time. It’s a bit like a classical pianist, once you perfect the basic skill set then you can explore where you want to go with it.

The ethos of the school is we want you to be able to recreate the dishes you learn to make in your own home without stress. I am not teaching my clients to be the next master chef but they should be inspired with new tricks of the trade and not be afraid to try out new things.

Q/The school is based in Kerrouet House, which is a beautiful old French manor house. What is the story behind that?

My partner Niall and I bought the house back in 2001. It was over 400 years old and in a real state of disrepair. The ruin was not love at first sight for me although Niall loved the area and had been partying in Brittany for years! We both worked in London but were drawn to the beauty of the countryside in Brittany. We have discovered an international population in this little hamlet. The local people are so friendly and accommodating. They love to see these old houses restored to their former glory. Younger people move away to find jobs in the cities.

Q/What is the profile of your clients and are they quite different to what you had envisaged?

I thought my client profile would mostly be from the UK. I have been pleasantly surprised as we have received a real international audience...Australians, Asians, Americans, and it had been an absolute delight.

Contents of the Course

Q/ Can you give us an idea of the structure of the course?

I always start with kitchen basics. In France, the sauces are so important as are the products themselves. We use 100% local produce. I also give suggestions of substitutes in other countries. We are a Dining school. This means, apart from cooking the food, using traditional cooking techniques and kitchen equipment, I also teach my students about selecting wine and food pairing, table presentation and dining etiquette if they are interested. We make full use of the lunch and dinner table to inform our students of the fine art of dining. We want it to be an holistic and enjoyable experience for our students. Classes are kept small so that everyone is involved in the course.

Q/ Do you get special requests from your clients?

Not really. We send out our course program a month before the courses start and students may give me their dietary preferences if they wish. I’ve catered for lots of different people including those who don’t eat pork, or people with gluten intolerance etc.

Q/ What feedback do you get from your clients?

Absolutely amazing really. People come as strangers and leave as friends. Their reviews on Trip Advisor have been very positive.

Q/What are some of the memorable experiences you have had in running the school?

It has been very rewarding for me to meet the wonderful people who attend the school from all over the world. The students get on very well together as they have one thing in common -­‐ their love of great food and wine. We get people from all walks of life and their diversity make the course very interesting. One day you may have a doctor working in Africa and another time an engineer from Texas with amazing food knowledge inspired by Mexican cuisine. It is often a sharing of knowledge between students and teacher and it is this aspect of the work which makes it all so enjoyable.

The future of the Course & the School

Q/What do you see next for the school? Where do you want to take it next?

French Dining School is a new cooking school.We are gradually gaining an international reputation for our informal approach to producing great food. The school is going from strength to strength. Moving forward we would like to incorporate more wine and cider tasting opportunities as well as introduce local food artisans to our students. We also recommend our students to explore the beautiful scenery and medieval towns and villages in the area as well as gourmet walking and cycling tours.

You can find more details of the French Dining School in their official site

Treat yourself and make a reservation by clicking Call: 00 33 2963 44 381 or write to: French Dining School, Kerrouet House, Kerrouet, 22330 St Goueno, France.

; A piece of Heaven on Earth